Gearing up to compete in its first competition of the season, Ball State received bad news before the first hole was even played. Returning senior Kiah Parrott was sidelined with an illness, leaving the Cardinals without their anchor. Fifty four holes later, Ball State finished in 14th place.
“I kind of knew that it was gonna be a tall task for us to finish very high in the standings because of the quality of the field,” head coach Cameron Andry said. “If you were gonna tell me that we were gonna be without Kiah then I would've said we’re really gonna have our hands full.”
Despite the placement, the Cardinals showcased a few bright spots throughout their young roster. At the last minute, freshman JJ Gregston was called up from Muncie to West Lafayette, Indiana, to play in Parrott’s absence.
“I was really proud of JJ,” Andry said. “It was definitely kind of a whirlwind situation with Kiah not being able to play. We didn’t know that until yesterday morning, about the time that the first round was starting. I called up JJ and said if you can make it here in time for the start of round two we can put you in and she said ‘yeah coach i'll be there, what are we wearing?’”
Gregston would finish 9-over-par despite the disadvantage of having not seen the course prior and not getting the chance to play a practice round due to the circumstances.
“Honestly, yesterday she played way better than her 81 she signed for and truth be told I probably cost her five or six shots just by miss clubbing her,” Andry said. “One of the things I’m still learning about her is just how far she hits it, so there were times I just put the wrong club in her hand.”
Gregston would improve her score from the prior day by 6 strokes after having gotten experience with the new course during round two.
“Today she was able to make some adjustments and played really really solid golf on a tough golf course,” Andry said. “Just her whole attitude about it to just jump in with no notice and do what she did, it was definitely something that I was proud of.”
Another pair of Ball State’s young pieces, sophomore Sarah Gallagher and sophomore Jasmine Driscoll led the way for the Cardinals. Gallagher and Driscoll both finished 9-over-par. Driscoll, who started off twelve strokes behind Gallagher to begin day three, finished with a round three score of 68, the third-lowest score in a round in the history of the program.
“The final round was definitely an improvement from the first two rounds,” Driscoll said. “I felt in the first two rounds I was in the right positions to score well, but I just made some poor decisions with the club choices. Today I had coach following me so we made good decisions and the right decisions paid off.”
Monday - Round One & Two
Struggling early, Ball State found itself in last place out of 15 by the end of the first round at a combined 22-over-par.
Gallagher led the Cardinals at 3-over-par with a score of 75. Langerak and Boyd followed behind at 5 and 6-over-par respectively.
Round two told a similar story with Ball State remaining in last place, led once again by Gallagher at 4-over-par. The second round did, however, see the arrival of Gregston who went on to score an impressive 4-over-par covering in place of Parrott.
Tuesday - Round Three
Easily the best round of the tournament for the Cardinals, round three saw the Cardinals move towards the middle of the pack for the day.
Gallagher and Driscoll tied for a team high 9-over-par to lead Ball State in the final round.
“Today I think we felt more comfortable, we were playing with one of the same teams we had played with the day before, and I think, today, we really felt like we belonged on the field,” Driscoll said.
Having the 10th best final round, Ball State finished at 11-over-par. This, however, did little to move the needle for the Cardinals who only leapfrogged one team to finish in 14th place overall at 55-over-par.
“Our home golf course is very different from the one we played this weekend, it’s a lot less challenging so a lot of lower scores can come from it,” Gallagher said. “I think just working on our short game, just putting in the work there will help us if we have any issues at our home tournament.”
Ball State looks to bounce back when it hosts the Brittany Kelly Classic Sept. 18 and 19 at the Woodland Trails Player’s Club in Yorktown, Indiana.